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Fires in the Mirror

From 102 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

About the show

Anna Deavere Smith's groundbreaking one-person show takes a multi-faceted look at the Crown Heights Riots of 1991. More…

From the show:

There are three sides to every story: yours, mine and the truth. Following the deaths of a Black American boy and a young Orthodox Jewish scholar in the summer of 1991, underlying racial tensions in the nestled community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn erupted into civil outbreak. Fires in the Mirror was Anna Deavere Smith’s groundbreaking response. Birthed from a series of interviews with over fifty members of the Jewish and Black communities, the Drama Desk award-winning work translated their voices verbatim, and in the process revolutionized the genre of documentary theatre. As much provocation as it is exploration, this landmark play launches Anna Deavere Smith’s Residency 1 at Signature.

Signature is excited to work with Anna Deavere Smith to reimagine this play for new performers and collaborators.

Member Reviews (102)


Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing
Avg Score

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Riveting, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you like ADS's docu-theater w/insightful quotes fr diff perspectives. Gr acting/staging. Impt discussn of Am race relatns; highly relevant.

Don't see it if you need action. Solo show w/lots of talk. Is two hours, but goes by fast. Well worth seeing if you like challenging content. Intelligent.

Great acting, Resonant, Relevant, Slow, Absorbing

See it if You love Smith’s compelling, genius storytelling style and would like to learn more about the Crown Heights riots.

Don't see it if You find that performing interview excerpts verbatim is less interesting than reading full interviews about the subject.

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Well directed, Incredible acting.

See it if you like to see amazing acting--1 actor playing numerous roles.Terrific staging.Problem is that the play doesn't have enough story or heart

Don't see it if you are expecting 1 of Deavere's incredible shows.This should've drawn me in more than it did.Felt too clinical.A few stories were touching

Profound, Masterful, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Michael Benjamin Washington gives an extraordinary performance as several characters involved in the 1991 Crown Heights killings/riots.

Don't see it if If you don't like one-person shows. This is more of an exploration than a play. If you like your shows linear, this might not be for you.

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting

See it if You enjoy docu-dramas with lines taken word for word from witnesses. Michael B. Washington does wonders with Anna Deveare Smith script

Don't see it if You prefer fiction or if you are uneasy with comments that can border on racism

Relevant, Intense, Intelligent, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you are tired of polarized views and want thoughtful, intelligent even handed insight into a tragic event.

Don't see it if you don't like one man shows and prefer traditional story lines.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if solo show about an historical event based on Anna Deavere Smith's interviews with members of the community; issues of indentity & divisions

Don't see it if want the actor to exactly mimic the 25+ characters being voiced* & want more elaborate props to accomplish this

Also *his moving portray of the characters is subtle (other than a few acce... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you want to see MB Washington give a tour de force performance. Well directed, seamless costume changes. A riveting mesmerizing evening.

Don't see it if you have seen the original. This is a revival and unchanged. You must listen to every word. One person play. No "action". Not for everyone.

Also About race, identity and the Crown Heights riots (I learned a lot; the... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Resonant, Relevant

See it if well acted and the play holds up without Anna starring in it. topic is still relevant and was good to see it again after all this time

Don't see it if need a straight through linear narrative with dialogue. style may not be for everyone.

Masterful, Intense, Intelligent, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you never got the chance to see it the first time around. Michael Benjamin Washington is amazing.

Don't see it if a play where one actor plays all 44 characters is not your thing.

Also I experienced the original 1992 production of the play starring Anna D... Read more Read less

A great performance of a smith classic, Ambitious, This important time in nyc histiry is too easily forgotten, Fine acting, lighting, and writing, Provacative historical solo performance

See it if Like one actor shows. Are interested in NYC history and/or issues of race, identity, and religion. Appreciate stark production values.

Don't see it if You are Impatient with solo shows or historic reenactments.

Profound, Riveting, Great writing, Great acting

See it if seeing Washington give a brilliant take on multiple characters as you revisit the Crown Heights tragic events will engage you!

Don't see it if you have a bias against one man shows or history

Also Thank Anna Deavere Smith!!

Perfect staging, Outstanding solo performance, Powerful, Timely

See it if This revival transcends the incident in question and powerfully addresses the causes & effects of racial tribalism. It is a brilliant work.

Don't see it if You just want to be entertained and not think or process complex societal themes that sadly are more timely than ever.

Also The production, staging and direction are outstanding, and Michael Ben... Read more Read less

Profound, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if With distance from the Crown Heights riots and the original production this revival brings to life a type of documentary brought to life

Don't see it if You don’t want a mosaic type approach incorporating commentary and actual interviews with people involved in the events at its core

Also It is mesmerizing to watch this one person show bring to life a snapsh... Read more Read less

Slow, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if you want to see a strong performance in this one-man show consisting of a series of monologues, many of which are quite powerful.

Don't see it if you want to watch a narrative play with a traditional plot and multiple characters. Parts are impactful, but some parts drag a bit.

Makes us listen, Profoundly wrenching

See it if You'd like drama on 1991 Crown Heights riots, triggered by the accidental death of 7-yr-old Gavin Cato & knifing/murder of Yankel Rosenbaum.

Don't see it if Race relations & historical events don't interest to you, even in a profound historical play composed of excerpted witness interviews.

Also This awesome & wrenching piece of theater benefits from the astounding... Read more Read less

Intense, Great writing, Great acting, Dizzying, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a tour de force of both writing and acting

Don't see it if you can't follow jumping between characters or can't sit through almost two hours without an intermission

Relevant, Seriocomical, Great staging, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you want drama that relates to urban life. This solo performance is extraordinary.

Don't see it if want something light or musical, or if you really cannot tolerate solo performances (even when they are wonderful).

Absorbing, Great staging, Great acting, Masterful, Thought-provoking

See it if Monologues based on interviews played by 1 actor - a shapeshifter for 20+ characters; structural racism exposed by a tragedy in 1991;

Don't see it if Racism or anti Semitic language triggers you; 110 min no intermission; very heavy content, thank god the actor finds humor within;

Also The 3rd play that I watched directed by Saheem Ali, previous 2 bring F... Read more Read less

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you are open to exploring multiple views of a particular series of incidents. Also, if you're a fan of Anna Deavere Smith.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy plays with one actor impersonating many people. Also, you can't sit still for one hour and 45 minutes with no intermission.

Masterful, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if One man show who performs variety of characters to discuss race, and set the context by observers of the Crown Heights riots

Don't see it if if you are tired of race as a theme for plays or if you prefer musicals

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Exquisite, Absorbing

See it if you did (it closed). Awesome. Virtuoso acting by Mr. Washington. Somehow maybe even better than the original, which I saw, with Ms. Smith.

Don't see it if you didn't. It's closed. What a tour de force you missed!

Thought-provoking, Profound, Great staging, Great writing, Great singing

See it if you want to be challenged to think, see timeless challenges to our society expressed through multiple eyes, told with care and insight,

Don't see it if you're looking for a linear plot, happy endings, high production and light entertainment,

Profound, Relevant, Intelligent, Absorbing, Clever

See it if You want to hear all sides of a disturbing time in NYC.

Don't see it if You aren’t interested in human interaction.

Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if you like 1 person shows with insights into a newsworthy event. Actor plays a multitude of characters with dialogue from actual transcripts.

Don't see it if you don't like 1 person shows and have no interest in powerful social injustice incidents.

November 11th, 2019
CRITIC’S PICK "Reflections That Sear in a Reborn ‘Fires in the Mirror’: The Signature Theater revival of Anna Deavere Smith’s drama about the Crown Heights race riots confirms this play’s status as an enduring work of art."
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November 11th, 2019
4/5 Stars "A theatrical time capsule that feels eerily timely...An appropriately fiery revival...While Washington doesn’t possess Smith’s uncanny abilities as a mimic, he imbues each person with specificity, authenticity and soul...A stirring account of an urgent work of art."
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November 11th, 2019
"Fires in the Mirror Exposes Segregated New York City: Anna Deavere Smith's theatrical documentary returns nearly three decades after the original incidents that inspired it."
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December 3rd, 2019
"[Washington] is an accomplished mimic…but he digs deeper, finding something of each person's essence, in a coolly appraising look, a conspiratorial smile, or a fierce burst of anger. His is not a showy, distracting display of technique, but a diligent excavation of souls."
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Cast & Creatives (3)